In the second article of our New Team Series, we check in with Cayla Cottrell & Uladzislau (Vlad) Palkhouski, who are in the second year of their partnership. Cottrell & Palkhouski are coached by Marina Zoueva, Johnny Johns, Ilya Tkachenko, and Yelena Sokolova and they train at the International Skating Academy at the Hertz Arena in Florida. They recently debuted their new programs at the 2022 Lake Placid Ice Dance Championships where they finished fifth.
Cayla: I started skating through the learn to skate program at a rink in Colorado, and from there I started doing pairs at age eight. I eventually found my true passion was ice dance and have been doing that ever since.
Vlad: I started skating very young, so I don’t really remember much. But I competed for Belarus with my previous partner Emiliya Kalehanova for six seasons. And now I look forward to competing with Cayla this year for the second season.
What drew you to ice dance?
Cayla: The artistic expression, the intricate elements, and the ability to convey a story through dance with a partner.
Vlad: The beauty of this sport, the spirit of rivalry, choreography and the complexity of the elements.
What are your earliest skating memories?
Cayla: I first was drawn to skating when I was seven, because I wanted to see the fish still swimming under the ice/pond. And after stepping on the ice, I immediately fell in love with the sport.
Vlad: I started figure skating when I was five, I don’t really have any early skating memories.
Tell us about how your partnership started (tryout, etc.)?
The beginning of our partnership and tryouts was a difficult one. We originally tried to schedule a tryout in July of 2020. Unfortunately, that was right during the height of pandemic as well as civil unrest in Vlad’s home country. So we were unable to actually have a tryout until December of 2020 in Belarus. After our tryout we both realized we wanted to form a partnership. However, because of the continuation of the travel ban, Vlad was not able to obtain a visa and travel to the United States until August of 2021.
It was then we quickly put our programs together, and ended up competing in the 2021/22 U.S. National Qualifying Series and eventually ended our first season by placing 11th in Senior Ice Dance at the 2022 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.
Tell us about your training challenges during the pandemic.
Cayla: For the safety of everyone our rink closed down during the pandemic for roughly three months. During that time I worked out at home online with my personal trainers. And was lucky enough to purchase some roller blades with Edea boots so I could take my dog running up and down my neighborhood streets.
Vlad: I was stuck in my home country, I could not get to the United States, and at home there were also problems there: the ice schedule and the number of training sessions were limited.
What do you like most about skating with your partner?
Cayla: The thing I like most about skating with Vlad is his competitive spirit, and our similar goals to continuously improve ourselves as a team. I appreciate his strength and determination.
Vlad: Most of all in my partner’s skating, I like her endurance and resilience. I like that she is an open-minded person, and is not afraid to try something new.
What are you looking most forward to this season?
This season we are looking forward to improving our overall quality and skills.